Before buying or renting a home, condo or apartment it’s a good idea first find out whether your personal communications lifeline—your mobile phone—has a decent signal at the location.
Similarly, before moving to new office space, it’s a good idea to find out if your business communications lifeline—the location’s business internet service options—are sufficient for your employee count and for how the internet will be used.
The way or ways in which internet service is physically delivered to a building correlates to potential speed. That’s why it’s good for a business owner or executive to be familiar at a high level with the information found below.
If you are planning to move your business to a new location, it’s worth finding out if more than one internet service provider has a connection to the new location.
Why more than one provider?
An increasing number of companies are subscribing to two business internet service providers. With a specialized router in place, the result is a total speed that is the sum of the speed of two providers. This also means continuity of internet service should one provider’s connection fail.
How Internet Speed is Measured
Business internet speed is measured in millions or billions of bits per second. “Mbps” means one million bits per second. “Gbps” means one billion bits per second.
Here are the per user bandwidth requirements for GoToMeeting, a popular business tool:
- Screen sharing = 0.04 Mbps
- VoIP users = 0.04 Mbps
- HD Video = 0.7 Mbps
Watching a 720p YouTube video uses roughly 0.25 Mbps. Ten people simultaneously watching a 720p video would require about 25 Mbps.
Several of the available internet service delivery methods are asymmetric. This means the download speed is greater than the upload speed.
If you run an internet speed test from home or work, you will see both a download and and upload speed as in this example:
Business Internet Service Delivery Methods
There are five main ways that internet service can be physically delivered to a business’s premises. Upload and download speeds vary based on what a business is willing to pay. The top end speed is constrained by the physical capabilities of a given delivery method.
Satellite business internet delivery is an uncommon option for most businesses because of its relatively high latency and low speed. Satellite internet also has monthly data caps.
With satellite service, data has a long round trip. It has to go out to space and back to earth (about 23,000 miles each way). This can cause noticeable lags with interactive internet communications such as VoIP phone calls.
Example business satellite speed range: 12 Mbps down & 3 Mbps up to 15 Mbps down & 4 Mbps up
2. Copper Wire
Copper wire dominated the communications infrastructure during the 20th century. It was the physical delivery method for telephone service to homes and businesses.
For decades, data has been carried over traditional copper wire in the form of DSL (Digital Subscriber Loop) service. However, because of the type of wiring that carries the signal, DSL is physically limited in speed even under ideal conditions. In less than ideal conditions, such as old copper wiring jackets that moisture can penetrate, DSL can become even more limited.
Major business internet service providers are understandably moving away from copper.
Example business DSL speed range: 3 Mbps down & 1 Mbps up to 25 Mbps down & 3 Mbps up
3. Fixed Wireless
Companies looking for a second internet carrier can add fixed wireless alongside an existing land-based provider.
This method of delivery requires a line of sight connection from a radio tower to a business’s rooftop.
Example business fixed wireless speed range: 20 Mbps down & 10 Mbps up to 50 Mbps down & 20 Mpbs up
4. Coaxial Cable
Most people are familiar with coaxial (a.k.a. coax) cable, as it’s the cylindrical black or white jacketed cable that connects to the back of their cable TV box.
The same type of cable carries internet service to many office buildings. Coax speeds are generally faster than that of copper or fixed wireless.
Example business coax cable speed range (absent DOCSIS): 30 Mbps down & 10 Mbps up to 300 Mbps down & 100 Mbps up
5. Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber optic cable service is the fastest business internet service option available.
As its name implies, information is transmitted optically, in the form of light waves. Signals literally travel at close to the speed of light. Fiber optic cable is capable of delivering speeds of up to 100 Gbps. That’s one hundred billion bits per second.
Fiber optic service is offered in asymmetric and symmetric flavors. The latter means that the upload and download speeds are the same.
Example business fiber optic cable speed range: 25 Mbps up & 5 Mpbs down to 1 Gbps up & down
Fiber and cable are the most scalable delivery options in terms of speed. If neither is currently running to your building, you may find one day that one or both are.
If you are planning to move your business to a new location, check out what options are available ahead of time. This will ensure that your business has the speed it needs.